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The Generalist - A little bit of this, a little bit of that...

Minecraft Does Not Work with Windows Multipoint Server 2011

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I was testing out Windows Multipoint Server today. I wanted to know if I could have one computer that all my kids could use at that same time instead of needing one computer per kid. I have three children and they only use the computer for homework and Minecraft.

The good news is that Windows Multipoint Server 2011 was very easy to setup and seems like it would work great for homework. The bad news is that you can't play Minecraft on it. The reason is that there isn't a full implementation of OpenGL when using Multipoint Server.

I still want to test out Windows Multipoint Server for office setups. If thin clients work well it could be possible to consolidate hardware to just one system per up to 10 or 20 users. That could be a significant cost savings.

 

Use Microsoft Fax Server to Reduce Paper Usage

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I've been looking for a good solution to replace our incoming paper fax. The most common method would be to install a modem on one of our workstations and have it receive the faxes. The problem is only the one system receives them.

I found that in Windows Server 2008 there is a Fax Server Role. I bought a USB modem and installed it on my backup domain controller since it's always on anyway. I setup the Fax Server role on the server and now all my domain users can access the inbox of the fax server and we can just print when we need a hard copy. It's also possible to have the faxes e-mail automatically or upload to a SharePoint site.

Microsoft's setup instructions are thorough. The only things I have to add are that the Fax printer that the setup created was not shared. I had to share is before users could connect to the server. I also had reboot at some point after the setup because the modem wasn't working. I could tell the modem wasn't working using the diagnostics. In Devices and Printer right click on the modem and go to Modem settings -> Modems, select you modem and click Properties. Go to Diagnostics and click Query Modem. When the modem wasn't working I got an error instead of feedback.

 

Remote Command Prompt for Windows 7

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It is possible to get a command prompt to a remote Windows machine. You need PSTools for this.

Open a cmd.exe prompt on your local machine. Make sure to launch it with an account that has admin access on the remote machine. Enter the following line:

psexec \\RemoteMachineName cmd.exe

You'll now be in the remote machine.

 

Using User Classes to Simplify Software Requirements

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When defining requirements for a software package I like to break them down by user class. A simple definition of a user class is a group of users with identical requirements for a system. For example, I frequently work on pipelines for pre-rendered cinemetics for video games or commercials. Some of the user classes might be: Producer, Modeler, Animator, Lead, etc. I try to list the requirements of each group. Here are some simple requirements for a time tracking system.

Modeler

  1. Enter own hours for the current and previous day.
  2. Modify own hours for the current and previous day.
  3. View own hours from any time period

Animator

  1. Enter own hours for the current and previous day.
  2. Modify own hours for the current and previous day.
  3. View own hours from any time period

Lead

  1. Enter hours for anyone on his or her team for any day.
  2. Modify hours for anyone on his or her team any day.
  3. View hours for anyone on his or her team.

Producer

  1. View hours for anyone on the project.
  2. View a summary of hours for each discipline on the project.

These are just example requirements; I'm keeping it simple for the purposes of this article. The first thing you probably noticed is that Modeler and Animator have the same requirements. I would probably combine these into one group named something like Artist. By splitting the requirements into groupings you might notice that you're better off with two different interfaces than one interface. For instance, the Producer doesn't change data. In this case I might not even put a summary page into the software. I might make a special spreadsheet report that gets sent to the producer every day or week.

Breaking up the requirements by User Class helps to organize the requirements and direct the design. It also simplifies requirement gathering since you can focus on one group at a time and have smaller lists of requirements to deal with instead of one long master list.

 

 

 

Fix for Desktop Icons Disappearing when Using Folder Redirection

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When I first set up folder redirection I had an issue where occasionally all the icons on my desktop would disappear. I found that a quick fix for this is to click on the desktop and press f5 to refresh it. It's still annoying though. I traced the issue and it turned out to be an iffy network cable between my domain controller (which also hosts the redirected files) and the switch. After replacing the network cable the icons stopped disappearing.

 


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